The Cabala of the Cushite, Zephaniah
by Beverly C. Prince
BookSide Press

"A genetic-like information, culture can be quite rigid in confining behavior and making certain the past is not escaped."

Deep beneath the surface of the Earth, history is threatening to repeat itself after a cataclysmically dangerous set of circumstances has forced many people underground. Divided by technology, culture, morals, and skin color, their worlds are bridged by the unplanned arrival of a surface dweller to the caves below. At first, it is an opportunity for the two groups to learn from each other and celebrate their differences and the humanity that combines them. But soon, just as they had before, assimilation and conquest prove themselves inevitabilities of human nature that lead only to more suffering and conflict. Thrust amidst the key players of this unfolding tragedy is Zephaniah, a strange man who projects an inner calmness that makes him stand out from his peers.

This peculiar world that combines science and nature, mysticism and realism is Zephaniah's to explore. It is dangerous and threatens his life and those of his friends on multiple occasions, but it is ultimately the hand he is dealt. Spiritual ascension gives him the tools to navigate, but his corporeal form is still vulnerable to those who wish to use his stature for nefarious purposes. In the wake of a failed old world, a new one is being constructed on the same principles of classism, sexism, and racism—all designed to keep power with those who have it and deprive those without it a chance for equal footing. The revered leaders of these people move tactically to try and protect their interests and ways of life. Still, as it so often does, it comes down to the actions and decisions of a few individuals, whether in the ruling class or not, to write the pages of human history.

Drawing ideas from the tenets of various religions and mysticism, this story swells in the shadows, always keeping the reader's attention on one thing while sowing seeds with another just out of sight. The narrative takes multiple twists and turns that are virtually impossible to predict, thanks in part to strong composition as much as its genre-defying blend of history, science fiction, spirituality, and speculation. The boiling down of so much human suffering into simple, easily understood ideas makes the conflicts of this story timeless, with easy to draw comparisons to virtually any region or era. The reader's mind is not asked to be stretched by these motivations. Rather, that exercise is saved for how the story's spiritual levels divide its players, giving them a self-ascribed closeness or distance to God based on their qualities or abilities.

There is an otherworldly quality to the worldbuilding in this story where so many elements feel familiar and yet wholly foreign. Any reader with any experience in Western religion will recognize names and characterizations familiar with that upbringing but will be challenged with the totality of their developments in an exciting way. That core idea of not being comfortable in what one thinks one knows permeates this entire story, giving the audience enough roots to empathize with and relate to the characters while still feeling outside of their world and the rules by which it operates. The creativity and attention to detail necessary to put together a tale such as this will not escape attention and gives plenty of reason to travel from chapter to chapter to see what happens next, learn what has already happened, and connect these two points with a thread of fascination.

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